Some of the more than 200 residents evacuated after an explosion at a Dallas apartment complex say they do not plan to return.
Property management at Highland Hills Apartments has not said when it will be safe for residents to return. Utilities and natural gas service had not yet been restored Monday.
Seven people, including four firefighters, were injured Wednesday when a residential building exploded at 5700 Highland Hills Blvd. Two other buildings sustained damage and all tenants were forced to relocate to short-term hotels in Dallas.
Three injured firefighters remained hospitalized Monday, but were upgraded from critical to serious condition, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue.
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A department spokesperson said they are making progress and appreciate the support people both in and out of DFR have shown.
Five days after the explosion, Lekeshia Williams said her left leg still hurts after she fell on stairs when the explosion happened in the building next to hers.
“Right now I can’t sleep, I’m having nightmares. I can’t do it anymore,” Williams said. “I can’t and I’m not going back.”
The Dallas Housing Authority said tenants who receive rental assistance are allowed to request a relocation voucher which would allow them to search for another apartment complex on the private market.
DHA said Monday it had issued 32 relocation vouchers for residents.
Dallas-based non-profit Not My Son said Monday it was focused on helping tenants who do not receive rental assistance with “rapid rehousing."
Tramonica Brown, executive director of Not My Son, said the group has identified apartment complexes that will allow tenants to move in and, through donations, have rent covered through the end of the year.
“They should be able to leave if they want to,” Brown said. “That is on the property management to do the right thing and let people living paycheck to paycheck give them the option to leave if they want to leave.”
The complex is owned by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Odin Properties. Requests for comment about the timeline for residents' return, and if those who want to leave will be allowed to terminate their lease without a penalty, were not immediately returned.
The City of Dallas said Monday that the Office of Emergency Management has assisted in coordinating hotel stays for affected residents through at least Wednesday with long-term plans still being finalized with the property owner.